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Life Health > Health Insurance

10 worst states to move to when you retire

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With all the doom and gloom surrounding retirement these days — projections of savings shortfalls in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, particularly for women, and widespread pessimism among workers concerning their own financial stability in retirement — the place one chooses to retire is perhaps becoming more important than ever.

To that end, took a long hard look at every state in the Union, considering such factors as cost of living, tax rates, well-being, health care, climate and crime rate.

Then, as it does every year, ranked them from 1 to 50, so that interested parties can pick and choose among them if considering a relocation once they leave the job.

Last week we looked at’s 10 best states; this week we look at those unlucky places that finished at the bottom of the rankings: the 10 worst states to retire, as measured by data from the following sources: the Agency for Health care Research and Quality; Healthways; the Council for Community and Economic Research; the FBI; the Tax Foundation; and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

If you need cheering up after reading this list of bottom finishers — maybe you already live in one of them? — you can always head over to our 10 best to see where the grass might be greener.

10. Maryland

A high cost of living and high tax rates will take a toll on retirees’ budgets, as will housing prices: a home in Bethesda, for instance, will cost you more than twice what you’d pay according to the national average.

The tax rates for 2012, the latest data released by the Tax Foundation, ranked seventh highest in the country — a big bite out of anybody’s retirement income.

Then there’s the crime rate, with the violent crime rate coming in at 10th highest in the country. Suddenly all those scenic coastal activities don’t seem quite so appealing…

9. Connecticut

The Constitution State is expensive to live in, with both cost of living and taxes eating away at income — both retirees’ and those still on an active payroll.

In fact, income taxes and property taxes both rank second highest in the country, which will put a damper on your next skiing trip in the Constitution State.

Gas and housing are expensive, too, although in its defense Connecticut made the top 20 in the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

8. Alaska

Were you really considering moving so close to the North Pole?

If so, bring plenty of cash, because the cost of living in the Last Frontier is high — so much has to be transported to the state from elsewhere. Housing’s not cheap, either, although the state is definitely tax friendly — no state sales or individual income tax.

Then there’s weather. Bitter temperatures in the winter and cool summers (although if you think an average high of 78 degrees is great for a day at the beach, you may come out all right) could crimp your outdoor activities.

And then there’s crime — Alaska has the highest violent crime rate in the country. Maybe it’s all that staying indoors when it’s too cold to go out?

7. Oklahoma

You could be singing the blues instead of belting out Broadway tunes if you choose the Sooner State — and sooner rather than later, if you get sick.

Oklahoma’s health care system came in at the very bottom in the country, according to the Agency for Health care Research and Quality, which cited high hospital admissions for asthma and diabetes.

The state’s crime rate is also not one to boast about, landing it in the top 20 in the country, with above-national-average rates of rape and burglary.

In addition, Oklahoma ranked third from the bottom on the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being index, with residents giving the state very low marks for feeling an overall sense of purpose in their lives, and for liking their community and feeling engaged in it.

6. Hawaii

Okay, so it’s gorgeous. But it’s also expensive.

And unless you’re retiring with a bucketload of money, you might come to regret choosing Pacific tradewinds and quiet lagoons with sandy beaches.

It’s not just the cost of living — remember, anything not made here has to be brought in, which adds to the cost — it’s the tax level, with an individual income tax rate, at 11 percent, as the second highest in the country.

Then again, some things are just worth the money. Hawaii does, after all, soothe the spirit; in fact, the state took the highest score in the country for personal well-being from Gallup-Healthways.

5. Louisiana

The lure of a low cost of living and world-famous cuisine, not to mention the Big Easy’s reputation as Party Central, make Louisiana pretty darned attractive — but unfortunately those aren’t the only factors to consider.

The state has a high crime rate — fifth highest in the country, with a murder rate that in 2014 was double the national average, according to the FBI. And if you partake of too many po’boys and beignets, you could find yourself in a world of hurt; Louisiana’s got the second worst health care ranking in the country.

Of particular concern to potential retirees is its “worse than average” rating on care for long-stay nursing home residents.

4. Arkansas

The rest of your natural lifespan isn’t likely to be as happy or healthy as it could be somewhere other than in the Natural State, which actually finished 50th out of 50 last year.

Arkansas got poor marks for weather, crime, health care, taxes and happiness. In fact, it got the fourth-lowest happiness score in the country among seniors, specifically, “with especially low overall scores for physical and emotional health” — although it does have beautiful scenery and a relatively low cost of living.

But at what price? The state has the seventh-worst ranking in the country for health care quality, with high levels of uninsured residents and not a whole lot of resources to improve health care. Oh, and did we mention the crime rate is the sixth highest in the U.S.?

3. Oregon

Scenery, coastline, wineries, craft breweries — lots of attractions here, but there’s a catch.

The cost of living is high, with rents in Portland coming in at double the national average. This costly trend follows through in such diverse sectors of care and commerce as veterinary care (13 percent above average) and wine prices in Portland (a whopping 45 percent higher than the rest of the country).

Taxes are high here, too. Is that vintage really worth it?

Remember that Oregon is known for its lack of sunshine and cooler days. So there won’t be a whole lot of basking in the sun no matter how idle you plan to be in retirement.

2. West Virginia

True, it has a low cost of living, and true, it’s located in the beautiful Appalachians, but there the good part pretty much ends.

West Virginia actually scored two slots higher last year, but was dragged down by dismal well-being and health care rankings.

Six years running, the state nabbed the worst scores in the country for personal well-being by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, finishing dead last in four out of five categories: sense of purpose, social relationships, community and physical health.

And about that health care: the Agency for Health care Research and Quality gave West Virginia its seventh lowest rating in the country, thanks to high hospitalization rates for asthma, diabetes and hypertension, as well as “potentially avoidable hospitalizations for acute conditions.”

1. New York

New York has everything. Everything including a Big Bill.

Not only does Manhattan have the highest cost of living in the country, with housing positively out of sight at four times the national average, even if you go across the river into Brooklyn you’ll only have achieved a move to the city with the fourth highest cost of living in the country.

Then there are taxes, with both state and local taxes topping those in the rest of the country.

And according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, retirees gave New York some of the lowest well-being scores in the nation, especially on feeling a sense of satisfaction with their lives and where they live. And that’s despite the theaters, museums, restaurants, and other attractions.

See also:

Why should you use FIAs in retirement income planning

4 ways to use life insurance in retirement

6 decades to prepare: A checklist for women’s retirement


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